The population in Yemen of 26.8 million is growing at 2.4% in 2015.[1] The Yemeni population is rapidly growing mainly due to its high fertility rate of 4 births per woman in 2015, even though it dropped down from 6.3 births per woman in 2000. The population is young, with almost 91% of its population under the age of 30.[1] The majority of the Yemeni population is rural, with an urban population of just 34% in 2014.[3]

Life expectancy reached 64 years in 2015 much below the Arab regional average of 70.6 years.[1] Similarly, the maternal mortality of 385 per 100,000 live births in 2015 is much worse than the regional average of 156 per 100,000 live births.[3]

In 2013, 40% (9.8 million people) of the population were multi-dimensionally poor, while an additional 22.4% (around 5.5 million) lived near multidimensional poverty. Currently, and as a result of internal violent conflicts, over 21.2 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 2.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). It is also estimated that 0.27 million refugees and asylum-seekers reside in Yemen in the beginning of 2016.[4] Moreover, 19.4 million Yemenis lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, of whom 9.8 million lost access to water due to the armed conflict.[4]

In 2015, the adult literacy rate in Yemen reached 70% compared to 54% in 2004. [3] Following the escalation of violence in March 2015, around 1.8 million children were forced out of school, in addition to the closure of more than 3,500 schools. In the beginning of 2016, around 1,700 schools remain closed, affecting about 387 thousand students.[5]

Yemen is a lower-middle-income country[6] with a GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices) of Int$ 93.5 billion[3] in 2013 and a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of Int$ 3,660[3] in 2013. Once a country with a great economic potential and a mining and quarrying sector that constituted around 22.6% of GDP in 2013,[7] the Yemeni economy encountered several shocks that left a huge toll on the economic activities, especially on the oil production. Following the political crisis that flared in 2011, the economy shrank by 12.7%.[8] With a modest recovery in 2012, the GDP growth (constant 2005 prices) increased to 2.4% and 4.8% in 2012 and 2013 respectively, but then the growth slowed down again recording a heavy contraction of 28.1% in 2015.[8] At the same time, the inflation rate was high at 19.5% in 2011, decreased to 8.2% in 2014, and then ascended to 30.0% in 2015.[8] With a lack in national statistics, Yemen registered a cash deficit of 8.3% of GDP in 2013.[7] At the fiscal level, the overall deficit declined from 4.5% of GDP in 2011 to 6.9% of GDP in 2013 and soared up again to 8.3% in 2015. Already at 45% of GDP in 2011, the public debt steadily increased to 67% of GDP in 2015.[8]

While merchandise trade-to-GDP ratio in Yemen reached 60 in 2013, trade in services reached only 11% of GDP in the same year. Yemen’s exports increased by 19% from 2006 to 2015 reaching 7.6 billion US Dollar in 2015, whereas imports have more than doubled during the same period reaching 10.8 billion US dollar in 2015.[3]

Yemen’s top exports are crude petroleum, liquefied natural gas and fuel. Its main imports are wheat and refined petroleum.[7]

In 2014, Yemen officially joined WTO. It is a member of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) and of the Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU), which was established by Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen since 1964. In 2004, Yemen signed a Trade and Investment Framework agreement (TIFA) with the United States.

The labor force participation rate in Yemen registered 49.6% in2015, indicating that around half of the working-age population was working or seeking work for pay or profit. However, the participation rate for men was significantly higher than that for women (73.1% and 25.8% respectively).[9] Yemen’s unemployment rate increased from 14.6% in 2009 to 17.8% in 2010. Over the 2011-2013 period, this rate remained at 17.7% but it decreased to reach 15.9% in 2015.[9]

Youth unemployment in Yemen is two times higher than adult unemployment where it stood at 30.1% in 2015.[9] Moreover, women unemployment rate is over twice that of men, recording 25.9% compared to 12.5% for men in 2015.[9] Due to limited employment opportunities in the formal sector, many Yemenis were attracted by the informal sector, although it lacks the high quality of employment, stability, and protection.

Compared to other countries in the Arab region, Yemen is not a major hydrocarbon producer but its oil and natural gas resources are sufficient to meet domestic demand and exports. The government is highly dependent on the energy sector. Crude oil production in Yemen reached its highest level in 2001, where it accounted for 160.4 million barrels. After 2001, crude oil production started decreasing, especially in 2011 after the attacks on the country’s oil infrastructure. In 2014, oil production registered 45.7 million barrels, the lowest level since 2000.[10] Moreover, net oil exports declined by about 64%, from 124.2 million barrels in 2000 to around 45 million barrels in 2012.[11] Yemen tried to make up for the declining oil resources by diversifying its economy. In 2009, the country started producing natural gas for domestic use and for exports. Natural production accounted for 27.5 billion cubic feet in 2009. This amount increased to reach 363.7 billion cubic feet in 2013.[10] Yemen has neither imported nor consumed natural gas until 2009, where natural gas consumption registered 12.7 billion cubic feet. Its consumption of natural gas reached its highest level in 2010 at 33.5 billion cubic feet.[10] On the other hand, net natural gas exports grew quickly, rising from 14.8 billion cubic feet in 2009 to 339 billion cubic feet in 2013.[11]


This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 30 September 2016. 


  1. World Population Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  2. World Urbanization Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  3. World Development Indicators, The World Bank
  4. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Jan 2016, «2016 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan»
  5. UNICEF, Jan 2016, “Yemen Humanitarian Situation Report
  6. The World Bank,
  7. Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), Yemen
  8. International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  9. KILM – International Labour Organization (ILO)
  10. International Energy Statistics, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) 
  11. ADP calculations based on data extracted from the International Energy Statistics, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Yemen Statistical Snapshot 2016
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Data Highlighted

  • In 2013, 40% (9.8 million people) of the population were multi-dimensionally poor, while an additional 22.4% (around 5.5 million) lived near multidimensional poverty.

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